Voting in DC? Some Residents Discover DMV Voter Registration Paperwork Never Completed

Months before the June primary, some Washington, D.C. residents have discovered they were never registered to vote, despite checking the registration box at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Rob Finn moved to D.C. last year and said he went to the DMV to get a new driver's license. Finn and his boyfriend registered to vote using the same form they filled out to get licenses, but when they recently checked their voter registration status in advance of the June primary, they found they were not registered.

"It was a little scary because at least before I moved to D.C. I never missed an election and I know my parents would have killed me if I did," Finn said.

While the Board of Elections and the DMV could not say how many times this has happened, they said that prior to a few months ago, the motor voter process in D.C. was all done on paper.

The completed forms went directly from the DMV to the Board of Elections, where they were entered by hand.

A spokesperson for the Board of Elections said residents also sometimes forget they have to not only check the box to register, but they also need to sign the form.

The board started using a new system this February to avoid the signature problem.

"It is now far more convenient for voters to register and update their registration if they do so through the DMV. The DMV has an electronic way to transmit this information to us, including a voter signature," said Margarita Makhaylova, a compliance officer and acting public information officer for the Board of Elections.

But even if a resident's registration is not completed, no one will be turned away from voting, said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

"They can be registered the same day. Nobody who’s a resident of the District will be turned away from the poll," Bowser said.

D.C. residents who are already registered but want to change their party affiliation must do so before May 16 in order to vote in the June Democratic primary.

New residents who registered to vote at the DMV before February 2016 may want to double check they are registered.

To check your voter registration status, visit the Board of Elections website

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